Female Labor Supply: Why is the US Falling Behind?
In 1990, the US had the sixth highest female labor participation rate among 22 OECD countries. By 2010, its rank had fallen to 17th. We find that the expansion of "family-friendly" policies including parental leave and part-time work entitlements in other OECD countries explains 28-29% of the decrease in US women's labor force participation relative to these other countries. However, these policies also appear to encourage part-time work and employment in lower level positions: US women are more likely than women in other countries to have full time jobs and to work as managers or professionals.
Presented at the American Economic Association meetings, San Diego, January 2013. The authors are grateful to Claudia Goldin, Christopher Ruhm, Bruce Sacerdote, and Jane Waldfogel for helpful comments and advice, and to Gary Cohen and Jason Cook for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.